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Dr Allen, who has been Head of the Registrary’s Office since 2009 and was instrumental in professionalising and building up the work of the office, said farewell to the Old Schools last week.

Dr Allen takes up her new role, as Chief Operating Officer of the University Library Services, on 15 May. Colleagues from across the University gathered in the Old Schools Combination Room last Thursday to pay tribute to her achievements as Head of the Registrary’s Office, and to wish her well in her new post.

Kirsty Allen gained her PhD, on the life and work of the Scottish translator and writer Willa Muir, from the University of St Andrews. She joined the University of Cambridge in 1998, having previously worked in the Academic Secretary’s Office in the University of Dundee. In Cambridge, she was Faculty Administrator at the Faculty of Law for ten years before joining the Registrary’s Office in 2009, where she was quickly promoted to the newly established role of Head of the Registrary’s Office in 2010.

The Head of the Registrary’s Office oversees the running of the University's governance arrangements and supports the Council and its committees. The office is also responsible for statutory and regulatory compliance (including information compliance, risk management and continuity planning, emergency management, audit and value for money), and oversight of the student unions.

As Head of the Registrary’s Office, Kirsty Allen played a crucial role in establishing and building up the office as a key professional service at the heart of the University’s administration. Jonathan Nicholls, the previous Registrary, has described the office before Kirsty’s advent as “a metaphor for the byzantine, chaotic and repel-all-boarders manner in which things were handled at the University [at that time].”

Speaking at Kirsty’s farewell reception last week, the current Registrary, Emma Rampton, praised Kirsty’s achievements in transforming that “relic of the past” into a modern, professional university office capable of dealing intelligently and competently with such challenging matters as student occupations, the University’s statutory Prevent duty, and thousands of Freedom of Information requests.

In her nine years in the office, Kirsty has worked with three Vice-Chancellors, two Registraries, and 72 members of Council, and managed the business and written the minutes of 78 Council meetings (which she wryly describes as “a cruel and unusual torture”). Asked for the highlights of her time in office, Kirsty cites running the 2011 Chancellorship election, as well as seeing the North West Cambridge development go from a few rough jottings to a living community, complete with primary school, up in Eddington. She is also extremely proud of the work she and her team have done to demystify governance at Cambridge and make it more transparent, in particular through constructing the Governance website.

At the reception last Thursday, in a speech delivered with her typical directness and humour, Kirsty looked back over her time in the Registrary’s Office and the sometimes difficult issues she had had to deal with. She paid tribute to “the professionalism and absolute commitment to the University of Cambridge of my UAS colleagues” and praised, in particular, the “intelligence, imagination, wisdom, energy and humanity” of her own team in the Registrary’s Office.

She is looking forward to her new role as Chief Operating Officer of the University Library Services, a newly-created post that unites responsibility for all professional services across the University Library and its affiliates. The post replaces the former role of Deputy University Librarian and will provide leadership across the core business and administrative operations of the University libraries, including HR, finance, estates, governance and communications.

Kirsty said: “There is a real energy and buzz across library services at Cambridge at the moment and I am excited that I can be a part of it. I am very much looking forward to working with Jess Gardner, the University Librarian, and her team to support and strengthen the community of library professionals at Cambridge.”

Jess Gardner said: “I am delighted Kirsty Allen will be joining the University Library as our first ever Chief Operating Officer. Kirsty’s knowledge of how the University works will be critical in helping the University libraries achieve their goals. Kirsty will bring humour, energy and the breadth of her professional networks to her new role and will help us realise our partnership service vision – connecting across all the libraries at Cambridge.”


08 May 2018


Dr Kirsty Allen